J. Charles Schencking

in The Great Kant? Earthquake and the Chimera of National Reconstruction in Japan

Published by Columbia University Press

Published in print July 2013 | ISBN: 9780231162180
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780231535069 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines how the Japanese government and media instilled into the populace the culture of renewal and reconstruction needed to form a true modern, imperial capital. Political leaders understood that the people would have to perceive the Great Kantō Earthquake, which was in fact a regional catastrophe, into national tragedy that would necessitate a long and expensive program of reconstruction. Through speeches and ceremonial events, colorful lithograph prints and pictorial postcards, harrowing survivor accounts that often lionized selfless behavior, objects taken from the destruction, images and evocations of the dead, and documentary movies, government officials, the media, and other institutions constructed the earthquake as an unprecedented national calamity that needed a humanitarian response unseen before. The chapter also talks about how these institutions used the analogy of war when describing the carnage of the earthquake, claiming outright that the sacrifice of those who were killed would be remunerated in the form of a new capital.

Keywords: Japanese government; renewal; reconstruction; imperial capital; national tragedy; Great Kantō Earthquake; war; humanitarian response

Chapter.  11913 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.